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In a Delhi v/s Mumbai argument, in fact Mumbai v/s Any Indian city argument, my winning stroke always used to be, “Mumbai is not a city, it’s a culture. A culture that respects women. Where men aren’t threatened by strong, independent, vocal & emancipated girls. Instead, they find them hot. The only city in the country where I can watch an 11pm movie show all by myself at a theatre without any fear.”

But, I don’t think so that I’ll be doing that anymore. Watching a movie alone is a far fetched dream, now I’ll think twice before entering a theatre. Thank you, Mr. ‘I-Think-Every-Girl-Who’s-With-A-Boy-Is-A- Slut’ .

So, what if that boy is her brother! Not even a cousin, real brother!! Her baby brother with a very visible age difference of six years!!!

Just as my brother & I were stepping out of the screen during interval, a 40 something decent looking, well dressed man came & touched my shoulder from behind. I turned back angrily, but he didn’t look like a prev or a lech, so I gave him a chance to explain.

He: Who’re you?

Me: Excuse me?

He: Who’re you? If you don’t know how to behave in a theatre, stay at home. There are kids here. This sends a wrong message to them. What were you doing inside? What’s your name? Go to your %$^* & tell him……..(I am censoring the rest of the part because: a. It’s bad & b. It’s hurting to type that)

Me: But…he’s my brother!!!

By this time my brother got the grasp of the situation. He tried to sort it out. There were people around us. Though I was standing, but clearly, I had blacked out. There was chatter…that man was shouting, yelling at the gentleman who was sitting next to me. I could see the lips moving & people gathering. There was a huge crowd around us & everyone was looking at me, whispering things. Some of them were giving me dirty looks, assuming ‘unsavory’ things about me.

Then I found another kind looking gentleman holding my hand. His warm hand was quite comforting. He said, “Beta, come here” & pulled me away from the scene, leaving my brother to hold the fort. The wife of the gentleman who was sitting next to me also came. By this time, I was in tears & sobbing.

She: Let it go

Me: But how can he think that? *hiccups* This is my baby brother!!!

She: Bachcha, he is an old man. They’re like this only & you’re so young…you look like a Baby… ab dekh ke to bhai hai yeh nahin pata chalta na”

I know she was sweetly trying to comfort me. But, I didn’t get it! I get it that he is an old man, so is it alright if  he harasses a girl & go for her character assassination in public? If a girl is young & baby faced so you’re not at fault assuming that she’s a…you know what. And if you don’t know that the boy escorting the girl is her brother it’s alright pulling them up for indecency?”

And, what indecency!!! Even if I was with my casual friend, I could’ve assumed that maybe something. But he is my brother, I can’t go wrong here!!! What indecent act a brother & sister can pull?

And, today I was so tired that I wasn’t even my usual dolled up self. My unbrushed hair were secured in a clutch, I was wearing a loose Reebok T-Shirt with jeans. There wasn’t even a hint of make up, not even lip gloss or a kajal. Other than my heels there was nothing sexy or hot or even borderline attractive about me.

Now, it’s not our fault that our helper bought corner seat tickets for us.

You tell me, if I am clinging to my brother’s arm during Mukesh ki Kahani(that commercial is very disturbing) what’s wrong or sexual with that? If I doze off out of boredom during the movie & my brother lets me rest my head on his seat, what’s vulgar with that? Or, my brother giving a hand to me when I got up in the interval that’s vulgar? Or, him holding my hand, as I walk the stairs in heels in the dark or getting the door for me is obscene & bad influence on children?

I don’t think so. That’s what chivalry is. Chivalry can’t be a bad influence for kids. And if you’re so concerned about the kids, why would you bring them to Ram Leela? The movie is full of double meaning dialogues, sexual innuendos & violence!!!

Anyway, your kids, your call. Ditto for your opinion too. But there’s a way of expressing it. That man could’ve cornered my brother & I & mentioned his discomfort, instead of going for my character assassination in public. My brother & I are raised with such values that despite the absurdity & insanity of his views, we would’ve respected them & would’ve ensured that our presence isn’t a cause of discomfort to him.

Anyway, what hurt me most in this episode was, who did this to me & where it happened.

Call me a snob, but I could’ve still comprehended if this had taken place in Chandan, Liberty, Regal or Eros. It happened at an elite, entry for members only, posh South Bombay theatre, where everyone is more or less acquainted with one another.

And that horrible man holds a senior rank in the only organization of this country which people still respect & have faith in. My family is part of it & I’ve always been proud of its culture of making Gentlemen out of Boys.

Perhaps, it is my love & respect for that organization that I am ranting a toned down, censored version of the way that old man behaved with me, the way he humiliated me in public or the things that he said to me.

Anyway, my brother joined me at the cafeteria, the sweet lady was trying to comfort me in her own way, another gentleman came & in a concerned manner told my brother, “I think you should take ma’m home.”

I held my brother’s arm & started walking towards the gate, my brother took me in a corner & said, “I don’t think so you should walk away, this way you’ll be validating that person. He was wrong, not you, so chin up & let’s go in.”

So, I walked in, the movie had already started, even in the dark theatre I could feel people’s eyes on me. I sat at my seat, which was right in front of that man & tried to enjoy the movie.

I could barely see anything because of the flood of tears. I was crying because I was angry. I was angry at my upbringing of being good, respectful & polite to elders, which made me totally incapable of giving a shut up call to that horrible human being. I was angry at the stupid love, pride & respect that we have for the above mentioned organization which held my brother back from breaking the nose of the man who made his sister cry.

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